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“Allaah, the Self-Sufficient.


In this verse Allaah elaborates on His Uniqueness (ahadiyyah) mentioned in the
first verse. Here, He uses the term samad which means that He is perfect in all of
His Attributes and that all creation is in need of Him.1 Ibn ‘Abbaas was reported
to have said that as-samad meant, “He is the Master [as-Sayyid] who is perfect in
His sovereignty, the Most Noble [ash-Shareef] who is perfect in His nobility, the
Most Magnificent [al-‘Azeem] who is perfect in His magnificence, the Most
Forbearing [al-Haleem] who is perfect in His forbearance, the All-Knowing [al-
‘Aleem] who is perfect in His knowledge, and the Most Wise [al-Hakeem] who is
perfect in His wisdom.”2
Allaah’s perfection implies that He is not in need of any of His creation in
any way, as nothing they can do can better or benefit His already perfect state.
This attribute of samadiyyah (self-sufficiency) invites the believers to reflect on
the purpose and the goals of their worship. Most people worship as if they are
doing God a favor. Allaah scolded those Bedouins who considered their
conversion a favor to Prophet Muhammad (r), saying:
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“They regard their conversion to Islaam as a favor to you. Tell them: ‘Don’t
count your Islaam as a favor to me. Instead, it is Allaah who has granted a
favor to you by guiding you to true faith, if you are indeed truthful.’” (Soorah
al-Hujuraat, 49: 17)
1 Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-Kareem, p. 353.
2 Tafseer at-Tabaree, vol. 24, p. 692, as quoted in Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol. 10, p. 634.
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The purpose of our creation is to worship Allaah. That is crystal clear in the
revelation. Our purpose was not left to be deduced or discovered, but was stated
in no uncertain terms in the books of revelation. However, it is only in the
Qur’aan, the final revelation, that that purpose is spelled out and thereby remained
clear over the generations since its revelation. The Almighty said:
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“I only created the jinn and humankind to worship Me.” (Soorah ath-
Thaariyaat, 51: 56)
In case those who heard or read this verse might think that Allaah needs humans
or jinns to worship Him, He went on to clarify that He has no need for or from
them saying:
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“I do not want any provision from them nor do I wish them to feed Me.” (51:
57)
Human beings and the jinn have nothing they can provide Allaah with. They
cannot even provide for themselves or other creatures. Allaah is the Provider, as
He went on to say:
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“Indeed, Allaah is the All-Provider, Owner of Power, and the Most Strong.”
(51: 58)
With regard to the animal sacrifices prescribed during Hajj, Allaah clarified His
lack of need saying:
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“Neither their meat nor their blood reaches Allaah, but it is your piety that
reaches Him.” (Soorah al-Hajj, 22: 37)
Thus, the prescription of worship as the purpose of creation is for human need.
However, to understand why human beings need to worship God, one must first
understand what is meant by the term ‘worship’. In English the term ‘worship’
comes from the Old English weorthscipe meaning ‘honor’. Consequently,
worship in the English language is defined as ‘the performance of devotional acts
in honor of a deity’.3 In common usage, worship means calling on God for your
wants and needs. As such, most people worship God in times of need. However,
in the language of the final revelation worship is called ‘ibaadah which is derived
from the noun ‘abd, meaning ‘a slave’. A slave is one who is expected to do
whatever his master wills. Consequently, worship according to the final revelation
means ‘obedient submission to the Will of God’. This was the essence of the
message of all the prophets sent by Allaah to humankind. For example, this
understanding of worship was emphatically expressed in a statement attributed to
Prophet Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew, 7:21, “None of those who call
me ‘Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my
Father in heaven.” The ‘Will of God’ is contained in the divinely revealed laws
which the prophets taught their followers. Consequently, obedience to divine law
is the foundation of worship. In this sense, glorification also becomes worship
when humans choose to obey God’s instructions regarding His glorification.
The Need for Worship
Why do human beings need to worship and glorify God by obeying the
divinely revealed laws? Because obedience to divine law is the key to success in
this life and the next. The first human beings, Adam and Eve, were created in
paradise and later expelled from paradise for disobeying the divine law. The only
way for human beings to return to paradise is by obedience to the law. Jesus, the
Messiah, was reported in the Gospel according to Matthew to have made
obedience to the divine laws the key to paradise: Now behold, one came and said
to him, “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So he said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is,
God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 4 Also in
Matthew 5:19, Jesus Christ was reported to have insisted on strict obedience to
the commandments saying, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these
3 The Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary, p.1148.
4 Matthew 19:16-17 (R.S.V.).
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commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of
heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the
kingdom of heaven.”
Divine laws represent guidance for humankind in all walks of life. It
defines right and wrong for them and offers human beings a complete system
governing all of their affairs. The Creator alone knows best what is beneficial for
His creation and what is not. Thus, the divine laws command and prohibit various
acts and substances to protect the human spirit, the human body and human
society from harm. In order for human beings to fulfill their potential by living
righteous lives, they need to worship God through obedience to His
commandments.